Mitch Perry, Author at Florida Politics - Page 4 of 324

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

With law now in place, Tampa Bay region moves closer to regional transit

Although modest in scope, Tampa Bay area lawmakers and business officials are happy that Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation (SB 1672) they believe is the first step toward creating a regional network to push for transit.

The bill changes the actual title of TBARTA. It will now be the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority (it used to be “transportation”).

The new agency is slightly smaller in scope in terms of geography, but not smaller than originally envisaged by Clearwater Republican Jack Latvala, the bill’s Senate sponsor. The new TBARTA will include five counties — originally to include only three: Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco.

Later on, Manatee and Hernando counties were added. Now, only Citrus and Sarasota are the odd counties out.

The TBARTA board will consist of 15 members, including some from the business community to be selected by Scott, in addition to those selected by lawmakers.

An amendment supported by Tampa Bay-area Republican (and anti-light rail) Sens. Tom Lee and Jeff Brandes says that any funding of commuter, heavy or light rail must have approval by the Legislature.

 

AARP: Florida one of worst states for long-term needs of elderly, disabled

While Florida has the highest percentage of senior citizens in the nation, when it comes to elder care, the Sunshine State is one of the worst in the country, according to a newly released AARP national study.

The report, Picking Up the Pace of Change: A State Scorecard on Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Adults, People with Physical Disabilities, and Family Caregivers ranks Florida 46th of 50 states on a detailed list of 23 specific indicators across five critical dimensions.

“Picking Up” was issued by AARP with the support of the Commonwealth Fund and SCAN Foundation.

We are the grayest, but far from the greatest state in America when it comes to supporting family caregivers and caring for frail older people and the disabled,” said Jack McRay, AARP Florida advocacy manager.  “While there are some bright spots in Florida’s long-term care record, it’s clear Florida is falling further behind other states.”

Florida ranks 46th in the county on six indicators of affordability and access to long-term care services, such as the cost of private nursing home care as a percentage of annual household income, the number of private long-term care insurance policies in effect and the proportion of people receiving Medicaid-financed in-home care. The state ranked even worse (49th) for where and from whom older Floridians can choose long-term-care services.

The quality of long-term care, as measured by three indicators, earned Florida a ranking of 10th worst in the nation. Support for family caregivers was ranked fourth-worst.

It’s not all bad. Florida ranked 21st nationwide on ensuring transitions between hospitals and long-term care in the home or nursing homes.

According to the AARP, nearly 2.7 million Florida residents help aging parents, spouses and other loved ones at home by providing assistance with bathing, dressing, transportation, finances, complex medical tasks (like wound care and injections), and more. For 2013, they estimate the value of this unpaid care totaled about $29.7 billion.

As for the best state for older adults, people with disabilities and caregivers is Washington, followed by Minnesota, Vermont, Oregon and Alaska.

Three states that fared worse than Florida: Tennessee (47), Mississippi (48), Alabama (49) and Kentucky (50).

Dennis Ross is on GOP congressional baseball team, but wasn’t at practice where shots were fired

Polk County Congressman Dennis Ross is one of four members of the Florida GOP delegation on the baseball team attacked by a gunman Wednesday morning in Alexandria, Virginia, but he wasn’t at today’s practice.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was shot, and multiple congressional aides were also hit by a gunman with a rifle who opened fire at a GOP baseball practice. Scalise is reported to be in stable condition.

Five people were “transported medically” from the scene, Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown said; however, it was unclear how many people had been shot.

“Cindy’s and my thoughts and prayers are with Whip Scalise, the staff, the Capitol Police officers, and the family and friends of those hurt,” Ross said in a statement. “Our deep appreciation goes out to the Capitol Police and local law enforcement officers for their protection.”

A spokeswoman for Ross said the representative did not attend practice this morning and was doing fine.

Florida Republicans Matt Gaetz, Tom Rooney and Ron DeSantis also play on the team.

DeSantis, who represents Florida’s 6th Congressional District, says he had a “very strange” encounter in the parking lot with someone who wanted to know if they were “Republicans” or “Democrats” playing baseball.

DeSantis was leaving the field with Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina with a man approached them.

“As I was getting into the car with Duncan, a guy came up to us and asked if it was Republicans or Democrats out there,” DeSantis told Fox News. “It was a little odd. He was not carrying anything at the time. There was no one that was obviously walking around with a rifle.”

Alcee Hastings endorses Andrew Gillum for governor

Although some Florida congressional Democrats have said it’s too soon to determine who they’re backing for governor, Alcee Hastings has seen enough to believe Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is the best person for the job.

“We live in historically troubling times, and last year’s election result proved that the stakes are high. I feel it necessary to make my voice heard early in this process, so that Democrats and all Floridians understand what is at stake in the 2018 election,” the South Florida representative announced in a statement issued out by the Gillum campaign.

“For the last 20 years, under Republican rule in Tallahassee, communities of color across the state have suffered from a lack of job opportunities, poor access to quality public education, and access to quality and affordable health care. As Democrats, we need to make significant changes, and in this spirit, I believe that Mayor Andrew Gillum is the right choice to lead our state.”

In backing Gillum, Hastings becomes the first Democrat in Congress to choose a favorite in the race for the gubernatorial nomination, which won’t be decided for 14 more months.

The 37-year-old Gillum was the first Democrat to file for the race and has been traveling around the state to build up support. He’s running against former Tallahassee area Congresswoman Gwen Graham and Winter Park businessman Chris King.

Hastings has served in Congress since 1992.

Gillum has already been endorsed by six Democrats who serve in the Legislature and picked up a national endorsement earlier this week from Democracy for America, a progressive organization claiming more than 97,000 members in Florida.

Tim Canova blasts FDP for Debbie Wasserman Schultz kicking off Leadership Blue gala this weekend — but it’s unknown if she’ll actually speak

Whether Debbie Wasserman Schultz is actually scheduled to speak this weekend at the Florida Democratic Party Leadership Blue Gala this weekend is in question, but the possibility of that happening has brought out the wrath of the man she defeated in her congressional primary last year, Tim Canova.

“The party needs to move forward. She is perhaps the most divisive Democrat in the country,” Canova told FloridaPolitics.com Tuesday, following a post on his Facebook page criticizing what he said was the decision by the FDP to allow Wasserman Schultz to address the party members at the annual three-day confab.

“She’s the personification of the disgrace, the scandal and the failure of the party,” Canova continued. “While she was the head of the DNC, the Democrats lost almost 1,000 legislative seats. She’s been implicated in violating the oath of impartiality in the presidential campaign.”

But there is some question about whether Wasserman Schultz is actually speaking at the event.

“It’s my understanding that U.S. House Members are not on the program this year,” Wasserman Schultz’ communications director David Damron said in an email.

The first news that she would be speaking came from a column by Sunshine State News contributor Leslie Wimes.

The Florida Democratic Party isn’t talking about who is speaking at the event, though it’s been publicized for weeks that Vice President Joe Biden will be the keynote speaker.

Canova ran and lost to Wasserman Schultz in the Democratic primary for the Congressional District 23 seat by 14 points last August. It was a tense and divisive race.

Wasserman Schultz served as chair of the Democratic National Committee from May of 2011 until last July, when thousands of released emails among party officials appeared to show co­ordinated efforts to help Hillary Clinton at the expense of Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries, an idea that had been promulgated by Sanders, Martin O’Malley and their supporters for much of 2016. That contradicted claims by the party and the Clinton campaign that the process was open and fair.

Those emails were published by WikiLeaks on the weekend leading into the Democratic National Convention in late July. On the Sunday before the convention began, the uproar was so intense that Wasserman Schultz announced she would resign at the end of the convention.

But early on the next morning, Wasserman Schultz was unceremoniously jeered by members of the Florida delegation, an embarrassing event captured live on cable news that compelled her to step down immediately as DNC Chair.

Canova says that at one point he was scheduled to appear on some panels this weekend in Hollywood at Leadership Blue but was contacted by Sally Boynton Brown, the president of the FDP, and told that candidates for office cannot participate in such panels.

However, that would appear to be in conflict with a scheduled Democratic Progressive Caucus panel featuring the three announced Democrats running for governor: Andrew Gillum, Chris King and Gwen Graham.

Although he has not officially announced another run in 2018, Canova did establish a campaign committee earlier this year. He says he understands Brown’s decision, and will attend the Gala to speak at some of the various caucuses Saturday.

Last Friday afternoon, Boynton Brown then called Canova and invited him to speak on a panel.

“What changed?” he asked her.

Canova says that Boynton Brown said Wasserman Schultz called to say that she wanted to give the gala’s welcoming remarks, “so this would allow it [to be] easier for them to allow Debbie to speak at the gala,” Canova says.

“I didn’t want to be complicit in that,” Canova says. “Putting Debbie Wasserman Schultz to welcome people to the gala is an atrocious idea.”

However, it now appears that Wasserman Schultz will not be speaking – but the fact is, nobody knows for certain at this time.

Canova is also hyping his own event for Thursday night, where he will announce political plans for next year.

 

Democrat Bernie Fensterwald taking second shot at going to Tallahassee

Democrat Bernie Fensterwald, a Dunedin retiree who lost a challenge to Chris Sprowls in the House District 65 race in North Pinellas County last November by more than 30 percentage points, has filed once again to run for the Legislature.

This time Fensterwald is gunning for the state Senate District 16 seat in north Pinellas being vacated by a term-limited Jack Latvala. The only other candidate to file so far for the open seat is former GOP state representative and Clearwater City Commissioner Ed Hooper.

Fensterwald is a multi-millionaire, but he chose to barely tap into his considerable resources in his losing bid against Sprowls last year, raising a total of less than $35,000. 

Sprowls, by contrast, raised more than $472, 400, more than ten times Fensterwald’s total.

Then again, Fensterwald thinks too much is made about fundraising, saying last year that it’s a subject that “political blogs in our state are obsessed about.”

He’s an advocate for a strong environment. On climate changehe says the longer the state waits to take action, “the harder on solutions and their impact will be.”

On guns, Fensterwald supports extending background checks to all gun purchases in order to help keep firearms away from persons who should not have them, and supports a ban on the sale of assault weapons in Florida.

All 5 Republican members of Hillsborough Commission are backing Ashley Moody for AG

Former Hillsborough County judge Ashley Moody just kicked off her campaign for Attorney General and is already building support amongst those who know her best – Republicans from her home county.

On Tuesday, Moody announced that all five Republican members of the Hillsborough County Commission – Stacy White, Sandy Murman, Al Higginbotham, Ken Hagan and Victor Crist – are backing her campaign.

“As a native of Hillsborough County it is incredibly humbling to have such overwhelming support from our County Commissioners,” Moody said of the joint endorsement. “This county is a special place for me and my family.  It is where I was born and raised, it is where I practiced law and served on the bench and it is where my husband and I are raising our family.’

“These County Commissioners have spent their time in public service advancing fiscally conservative principles that prioritize spending on local government priorities, including public safety and our Sheriffs Office – giving our men and women in uniform the tools and resources they need to keep us safe and crackdown on crime,” Moody added.

The 42-year-old Moody is competing against Jacksonville state representative Jay Fant in the still very early race to succeed GOP incumbent Pam Bondi in 2018.

Fant raised $80,000 in May, his first month of entering the race.

While the consolidation of Republican elected officials in Hillsborough will help Moody locally, she has already claimed the support of perhaps the biggest Hillsborough Republican in the race from the jump – that being Bondi, who said last week that Moody is her chosen candidate to succeed her next year.

Max Goodman headed back to work for Vern Buchanan

Max Goodman, the well-regarded communications pro who worked for U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan for nearly a decade before helping David Jolly’s campaign(s) in 2015 and 2016, is returning to work for Buchanan as Chief Communications Advisor.

Goodman will be based out of Washington D.C.

Goodman joined Jolly’s campaign for the U.S. Senate in the fall of 2015 as his political director and was later named his campaign manager. But after Marco Rubio opted to run again for the U.S. Senate seat he had given up in 2015 to run for president, Jolly and the other Republicans who had been competing for the then-open seat dropped out (with the exception of Carlos Beruff, who got smoked by Rubio in the GOP primary).

After Buchanan narrowly defeated Democrat Christine Jennings in 2006, Goodman began working for Buchanan, ultimately becoming his full-time communications director in 2010, and was later promoted to senior aide in 2012.

Max is the younger brother of Adam Goodman, the famed political ad-maker who is currently working on Rick Baker’s mayoral campaign in St. Petersburg.

On Pulse anniversary, Equality Florida calls Rick Scott to ban LGBTQ discrimination statewide

In a statement proclaiming Monday as “Pulse Remembrance Day,” Gov. Rick Scott  described the Pulse nightclub shooting that killed 49 people a year ago as “an attack on Orlando, our state, the Hispanic community and on the LGBTQ community.”

Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, the leading advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in Florida, is “glad” Scott acknowledges the killings were a direct attack on the gay community, specifically the Latino gay community.

But Smith believes the governor could go even further — by signing an executive order to include sexual orientation and gender identity in an anti-discrimination measure.

“We want to make sure that is in addition to, and not a substitute for, the real work of making sure that discrimination is not acceptable in the state of Florida, and he can do that with an executive order and a stroke of a pen,” Smith said at a Ybor City news conference Monday morning.

Also at the event were Congresswoman Kathy Castor and GaYBOR District co-founder Carrie West. 

“We hope he does that, and we hope any candidate running for office that invokes the name of Pulse has the courage to name the victims and make clear their stance, not in platitudes, but in real promises,” Smith added.

That last comment referred to Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a leading Republican candidate for governor next year. On Sunday, Putnam issued a statement that neglected to mention that many of those of those killed last year in what was the worst mass shooting in U.S. history were gay and/or Latino.

Just a week after the shootings last year, Equality Florida called on Scott to take executive action to protect people from discrimination for sexual orientation or gender identity. Although many local governments include the LGBTQ community in their own human rights ordinances (including St. Petersburg, Tampa, Miami and a host of others), the state of Florida does not include sexual orientation and/or gender identity in its statewide laws.

The Florida Legislature once again opted not to pass the Florida Competitive Workforce Act this spring, the bill that would sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s list of groups that cannot be discriminated against. That’s despite the fact that the bill had its most momentum ever going into a session with 36 different co-sponsors, including Republicans like Dana Young, Chris Latvala and Joe Gruters.

The FBI declared the Pulse nightclub shooting an act of terror — but not a hate crime — despite the shooter targeting a gay club during Latin night.

“This was a hate crime, but the federal government did not follow through and designate it as a hate crime,” Castor said. “The march toward equal rights and civil rights in America has been steady, but sometimes it’s been slow.”

“Hate was clearly at the center of it,” Smith said, a reference to how the father of killer Omar Mateen had openly spoken about his disgust for gay people.

While the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage two summers ago was a wonderful achievement, Smith said there is still much work to be done “in the face of a rather ugly backlash” with the LGBTQ community.

“Everybody can stop that joke being told at the dinner table, they can intervene when they see street harassment, they can speak up in their workplace and ask ‘do we have policies that make it clear that everybody is going to be respected and treated equally?'” Smith asked rhetorically.

Just hours after the shooting, Equality Florida set up a GoFundMe page for the victims and their families. They took in $9.5 million before merging with the OneOrlando Fund, which ultimately raised more than $31 million.

In August, the organization also set up its new two-month “Safe & Health Schools Project.” That program is designed to provide all Florida school districts with resources necessary to support and affirm LGBTQ students.

Castor and Smith both said that Pulse victims need to be honored with action (the name of a hashtag campaign that Equality Florida has created which calls for people to commit to direct actions to honor the victims).

And Castor said that there’s a lot of work to be done, referring specifically to President Donald Trump‘s selection of Roger Severino, a former Heritage Foundation staffer.

Severino has argued that same-sex marriage threatens religious liberty and that civil rights protections should not extend to transgender patients.

Castor also said that Congress continues to refuse to support ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which has failed to gather support back in the 1990s.

“As we remember our neighbors who lost their lives at the Pulse nightclub, it’s very important to honor them with action, and all of us can join together tonight in Ybor and come together but then demand that policymakers across the country really do action on equal rights for everyone,” Castor said, referring to an event commemorating the event scheduled to take place at Ybor’s Centennial Park at 7 p.m.

Roger Stone to appear in Tampa later this month

Roger Stone, the longtime Donald Trump confidante and a GOP political adviser to Republicans going back to Richard Nixon, is appearing in Tampa later this month.

Stone will be signing copies of his latest book, “The Making of The President 2016: How Donald Trump Orchestrated a Revolution,” and taking questions from audience members Thursday, June 29, at 7 p.m. at the Centre Club in downtown Tampa.

Always a controversial character, Stone is now a central figure in the FBI investigation into Trump campaign ties to Russia, an investigation that he called “a witch hunt.”

The flashy right-wing provocateur is also the subject of a new Netflix documentary, “Get Me Roger Stone.”

Although he had counseled Trump on politics over several years, Stone left the campaign in August 2015, staying on the sidelines and continuing to offer informal guidance through the primaries and into the general election against Hillary Clinton.

Before Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May, Stone helped solidify the president’s decision.

As for Stone’s alleged connection to, or knowledge of, Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, he dismissed having any contact with the online hacker “Guccifer 2.0,” who claimed to be behind the attack on the Democratic National Committee last year.

Stone later volunteered to speak before the House Intelligence Committee investigating Trump and Russia about his role on the campaign.

“I acknowledge I am a hardball player. I have sharp elbows. I always play politics the way it is supposed to be played,” Stone told CNN last month. “But one thing isn’t in my bag of tricks — treason.”

The Centre Club is at 123 S Westshore Blvd, 8th Floor, in Tampa.

Information on obtaining tickets is available online.

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